There are prettier places to sit than York Road in Kings Heath.
The buildings aren’t particularly prepossessing, there’s a lot of traffic, a bit of dereliction and an odd mixture of businesses.
But among them are a few gems – the Hare & Hounds, for instance.
And now there’s Grace + James – part deli, part wine bar.
A sunny Friday evening found the place packed with mostly bright young things, some of whom wouldn’t have looked out of place on the achingly trendy streets of Shoreditch.
The only available table was outside so that was where we sat.
Not exactly Montparnasse or the quayside at St Tropez, but grittily enjoyable in its own way.
The wines are made by small producers and are organic, biodynamic or natural.
Which is a great thing because it means I can get tipsy and save the planet at the same time.
Perhaps I should pitch a new super-hero to Marvel Comics – Captain Pisshead whose bright red nose emits a ray that destroys all non-organic vineyards.
That said, this was but a fleeting visit so I drank only one large glass of orange wine – so-called because they’re white wines that have been left in contact with the grape skins, giving them an almost amber glow.
There’s also a greater richness about their flavour – akin in a way to the mouth-fill of red wines.
My Kindeli Bianco 2016 from Martinborough, New Zealand, was enjoyable – exotic fruits, hints of fermented apples, an underlying backbone of acidity.
At £8.50 it was one of the most expensive glass on the list, which kicks in at £4.50 for a 175ml measure or £3.50 for 125ml.
Sourdough bread with butter cost £2.50 and had a beautiful flavour, pleasing elastic texture and fabulous crust.
A platter of salumi at £8 was equally satisfying – the fennel salami a particular highlight.
Cheeses – a similar price – were good too and I could have spent hours eating the seductively soft gorgonzola dolce, its sweetness balanced by a tang of acidity.
This isn’t a place to go for dinner but is a perfect spot to enjoy sharing platters and interesting drinks with friends.
There’s a wide range of fascinating wines to take away or, for a £7 corkage fee, drink there.
There are also vegan beers and G&Ts.
This is a very likeable place with friendly staff and unfussy but smart decor.
It’s a bar that I shall frequent in my relentless search for new wines.
Grace + James
23 York Road, Kings Heath, Birmingham B14 7SA.